Dlamini-Zuma And The Nkandla That Never Was

‘Madam President’ tribute, posh house look out over village

The guardhouse, still under construction at Dlamini-Zuma’s new home. 

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s victory was cast in stone, but only in the rolling hills of Bulwer.

So confident of her victory were residents of Nkumba village in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands that they set out bright white stones on the hillside reading: “NDZ Madam President”.

The stones were painted and laid out a year ago by Nathi Ngcobo and his comrades in the ANC’s Bheki Khumalo branch.

Ngcobo, a politically prominent civil servant in the area, was gunned down in early October – one of the half-dozen apparent political hits in the region since April.

And the villagers’ dream for Dlamini-Zuma was shattered on Monday when she was defeated by Cyril Ramaphosa in the race for the ANC’s top position.

The stones, however, might stay.

This week local caregiver Khonzi Memela said the whole community of Nkumba was disappointed by the outcome: “We wanted her to win and we wanted her to be our president.

“We will not remove those stones. They are a reminder of a great dream locals had of having a president in their midst.”

Villager Ndodo Zondi said he had awaited the result from the Nasrec conference centre in Johannesburg with bated breath – and found it impossible to go to sleep even after it was announced that Dlamini-Zuma had not won the ANC presidency.

Everything in Dlamini-Zuma’s village had begun to proclaim “presidential”.

From a newly surfaced gravel road leading from her gate to a helipad and a half-built guardhouse at her home, all signs pointed to a state of readiness for an incoming president.

So convinced were they that their grandmother would become ANC president and, ultimately, the country’s leader, that Dlamini-Zuma’s grandchildren built her a house fit for royalty. Now it’s an Nkandla that never was.

Neighbours have been marvelling at the scale of the house, constructed of beige sandstone bricks imported from Lesotho.

The six-bedroom house, complete with massive roof-mounted solar panels facing the eastern and western sides of the property, occupies a newly dug up, expansive yard complete with a guardhouse – still under construction – and an as-yet unpaved helipad.

Former ANC  presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's grandchildren are building her a new home  in Bulwer, KwaZulu-Natal.

Former ANC presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s grandchildren are building her a new home in Bulwer, KwaZulu-Natal. 
Previously, a family member said, a military helicopter would land on a flat piece of ground down in the valley, 2km from the home. But now it has landed several times at the new helipad. The pad is still gravel, but is perfectly level.

Family members, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the construction of the house started in February.

They claimed it was built by family funds and that a Durban-based construction firm, Stefcon Projects, was contracted for the job.

“All of her grandchildren have contributed to the construction of the house. It’s not government funds and there’s no big businessman bankrolling it,” said a grandchild.

Two things prompted the grandchildren to build the house – first, to thank Dlamini-Zuma for what she has achieved by giving her a gift befitting a queen, and, second, “because rumour was rife that she was living in Nkandla”, she said.

An annoyed family member said: “How embarrassing was that! How could people say that?”

They would not say how much the house cost, but estimated that it was over R1-million.

Construction workers, a workforce of 13 men and a foreman, were also mum this week, only confirming that the bricks were sandstone imported from Lesotho.

Dlamini-Zuma had not responded to questions about the house at the time of going to press.

BY NATHI OLIFANT/TimesLive

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